The Australian Football League on Sunday said that AFL Football Operations Manager Mark Evans "would now have the power to overrule match review panel decisions and send incidents directly to the tribunal," according to Scott Gullan of the HERALD SUN. The reform "is designed for MRP points calculations that are seen to be unreasonable or defy common sense." Evans said, "On some occasions it might be more appropriate for the tribunal to hear all of the evidence, including the player’s account. The match review panel has the ability to directly refer to the tribunal if they wish and this amendment clarifies that the power is also available to the GM of football" (HERALD SUN, 2/24).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Former North Melbourne champion Wayne Schwass has called on the Australian Football League "to make the issue of mental health an immediate priority with the introduction of a themed round to the AFL fixture," according to Rohan Connolly of THE AGE. Schwass, 45, who battled depression during his 15-year, 282-game league career with North Melbourne and Sydney, "has worked extensively in the area of mental health since he went public about his struggle in 2006." Schwass: "I just think there's a need there and a real opportunity as the No. 1 sporting body in Australia for us to actually put mental health on the agenda. Not only within our code, given some of the pressures associated with playing and coaching and administering a hugely popular sport, but to show the Australian population that we're doing something to recognize the impact mental illness has on people not only following our game, but right around the country" (THE AGE, 2/25).
The MLB L.A. Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground is "tremendous for everyone at the SCG," but "less tremendous for everyone from the Dodgers and Diamondbacks," according to Will Swanton of THE AUSTRALIAN. One could "hear Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke's teeth grinding" Sunday. One could "hear the Major League Baseball corporate machine telling him 'Yo Zack, you can't be sayin' that.'" So Greinke "issued an apo . . . Greinke delivered an apol . . . Greinke finally expressed an apology of sorts." Greinke: "It's a baseball thing. It's an ownership thing, spreading stuff around." The "truth was revealed a day earlier in the comments that led to Greinke being clobbered by the MLB's disciplinary feather" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/25). The SYDNEY MORNING HERALD reported Dodgers President Stan Kasten said that Greinke "is the exception, not the rule, and the Dodgers are for the most past very excited about the trip." Kasten told ESPN LA, "Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him." Given the amount of money being poured into opening the season at the SCG, organizers in Australia "were far from thrilled with Greinke's comments and fired off a 'please explain' to the MLB and the players' association" (SMH, 2/24).
CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH? In L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote Greinke was saying what "probably most every player was thinking but not espousing publicly." The trip to Australia is "one major injury away from being a complete disaster." Players have "nothing against wanting to help expand baseball internationally, and certainly nothing against Australia." Dilbeck: "Probably all the players would like to give it a visit. Just not officially begin their season there in a chopped-up start that could leave them less than ready to resume it eight days later." The series is "weird and impractical, and with precious little reason for a player to get excited about" (L.A. TIMES, 2/23).
National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "isn't surprised the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation has dragged on for more than a year." Smith said that he knew at the time that any outcome "was a long way off and the NRL had acted carefully as a result." Smith: ''I am not surprised, given the complexity and the amount of work involved" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/25). ... Australian Football League CEO Andrew Demetriou was joined by his deputy, Gillon McLachlan, Essendon Chair Paul Little and Bombers' COO Xavier Campbell in inspecting the state-of-the-art facilities. The tour "was part of a process of rebuilding the relationship between league headquarters and the club which split during the supplements saga last season" (SMH, 2/25).